LIVE: Espen Eriksen Trio with Andy Sheppard – Howard Assembly Room, Leeds, 26/11/2022 1

LIVE: Espen Eriksen Trio with Andy Sheppard – Howard Assembly Room, Leeds, 26/11/2022

Another Saturday night at the Howard Assembly Room and yet another completely sold-out show. This should really come as no surprise given the consistently high calibre of artists, both from home and abroad, that this wonderful venue located in the heart of Leeds continues to attract year after year. And this evening is absolutely no exception in this regard.

Enter the Espen Eriksen Trio from Norway, featuring Espen Erikson (piano), Lars Tormod Jenset (double bass), and Andreas Bye (drums), who are joined by the award-winning British jazz saxophonist, Andy Sheppard. First invited to guest with the Oslo-based trio in 2016, Sheppard then joined them for tours of Korea and Norway and since that time the four musicians have recorded two studio albums together, 2018’s Perfectly Unhappy and then earlier this year, In The Mountains.

Last here in July 2019 when playing at the JazzLeeds Festival, the four men are clearly pleased to be back in the West Yorkshire city. They open tonight’s concert – the last date of their current tour of the UK and Norway – with ‘Above The Horizon’, the first track from Perfectly Unhappy. It is abundantly clear from the outset that they are all very comfortable in each other’s company. And this kindred spirit intimacy is reflected in their collaborative sense of harmony and rhythm as Sheppard’s sax merges seamlessly with the serenity of Eriksen’s piano melody.

Espen Eriksen Trio with Andy Sheppard

The Espen Eriksen Trio with Andy Sheppard will begin recording their third album in January next year and we are privileged to hear a couple of songs that have been earmarked for it. Provisionally entitled ‘6.7’ and ‘6.5’ there is a delightful playfulness in their delivery, the former displaying a sprightly spring in its melodic step as it gathers fluency and momentum. They both promise much for the forthcoming record.

They then move onto more familiar territory courtesy of ‘1974’, ‘Anthem’, and ‘In The Mountains’ – all taken from their second album – and with this trio of songs the four men shift gears and move into a higher sonic groove. The playing here suddenly feels more liberated as it acquires a greater buoyancy, reaching a point where intricate improvisation and subtle atmospheric chords coalesce. It is spontaneous, and alchemic, combining elements of simplicity and complexity as if by sleight of hand.

The Espen Eriksen Trio and Andy Sheppard return for one last song, the entirely apposite ‘Home’, confirming their collective intuition and musical unification. It is a nigh-on perfect evening.

Photos: Simon Godley

A few more photos from this concert are HERE

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